Leadership is all about influence. It is the invisible force that drives people to give a hoot about what you’re saying and follow you. A leader without influence is like a kite without wind; lifeless and grounded.
Influence is a by-product of trust.
Think about someone you really trust. I’m not talking about someone you trust to successfully execute a Starbucks run for you. I’m talking about someone who you can trust with your ideas, thoughts, and emotions. Does this person have any influence over you or your decisions. Most of you just said yes. If you didn’t, I’d humbly ask you to re-evaluate the level of trust you have in your friend.
People begin to trust you and your story when they believe that you are there to help them and to perform good, important work. If a leader is passionate about his cause and honest in his or her pursuit, his team will pick up on that genuine character. Once trust is established, they will begin to let the message soak in and will be moved by the leader. That movement is the birthing of influence.
Influence is hard-earned.
Honest relationships and genuine passion are the only way to cultivate long lasting influence. A leader has to slow down, walk amongst the crowd so to speak, and connect with them on a very personal and honest level. Never stop developing those relationship and those people.
Influence is fragile and easily lost.
Don’t ever get too big for your britches and feel like the crowd is below you. Leaders who lose touch with their followers will surely lose influence. Do anything to compromise that trust or those relationships and you will quickly lose their support. No leader has ever been able to accomplish anything worthwhile without influence.
Influence can dangerous.
Adolph Hitler used his influence to systematically murder as many as 17 million civilians. Charles Manson led his “family” to kill several innocent people in California. Marshall Applewhite built a community called Heaven’s Gate, more aptly described as a religious cult, and used his influence to convince 39 people to kill themselves. These leaders created movements that oppressed and destroyed their fellow man.
Influence is a means for accomplishing good.
Martin Luther King Jr. was able to rally millions behind his cause and serve as one of the major catalysts for social reform in the United States. Bob Dylan used his musical influence to instigate a revolution in art and social and political thought. Bill Graham used his clout and influence to lead more than 2.5 million people to Christ. These leaders created movements for good, positive change in this world.
How can you use your influence to change the world?